AAFS provides respite care in a social and recreational environment for children, youth and adults on the spectrum of Autism; this includes, but is not limited to, Autism, Aspergers, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Non-Verbal Learning Disorder.
AAFS is both dreamt-up and made reality by the youth themselves. We envision and facilitate the implementation of programming where our youth can choose their own adventures and have a hand in every intricate detail of each activity regardless of how difficult it is to conceptualize or organize. We work with them, for them.
And it was written entirely by two AAFS Members:
Friendship means someone who you can trust and/or someone who heals you. You cannot simply ask to be friends, or if the other person is your friend, it is much more advanced than a yes or no answer, and friendship builds up over time.
Friendship is "People getting to know other people and being interested in one another. Liking them for who they are, and not judging them. Not judging the book by its cover."
We believe it is incredibly important for youth with ASD to be provided a welcoming space to learn social thinking and take social risks. Interpersonal, relationship, and communication skills are a priority for all people no matter where they began in life. It is paramount that our children are given the opportunity to practice and develop these skills in a safe environment. It is vital to connect our youth with other members of their community to not only share experiences but strengthen them as individuals and as a population. Our youth have so much to share with the disability community, and world at large, if we will simply take the time to listen.
Children of all ages must have the opportunity to experience as many activities, outings, and adventures as they can - and are guaranteed to learn valuable skills whilst doing so. While an understanding of a child's limitations is important, a far more important appreciation is that of a child's potential. There is a substantial difference between being out with a group of people and being a part of that group - being a friend amongst friends. Our children are a part of our group, and when they are here, they are amongst friends.
We see a socially and recreationally satisfying future for all of our valued members. We see them spending their evenings and weekends laughing with their friends, celebrating with their families, and being as happy as anybody - any time - anywhere.
We see a community clubhouse filled with children of all ages, a place that our participants come to for hanging out after school while their parents work, or for meeting their friends on the way to a movie. A safe place to play video games and chat, learn how to ride a bike, play catch and shoot baskets or even just drop by to say hello.
We see even more of our youth growing and maturing into fully-fledged members of the AAFS staff team and continuing to support their own community in a real way. Some of our long-time members that were twelve or thirteen when they first arrived work with us now! They are Social Experience Guides and provide support for the young people who need it most, providing a completely unmatched understanding of their particular struggles. They are organizers and help to plan activities for our various groups as they help us decorate and maintain the integrity of our building, and our organization.
We let the members be themselves, all the while understanding and learning to accept their quirks, and knowing that strength comes from uniqueness. Through this approach, we facilitate the development of social and life skills in the community at large. Our overall goal is to lead our members from having social skills to practicing social thinking. Our Social Experience Guides convey a message of respect for self and others, leading to a stronger self-image for every individual.
AAFS is a Community of unconditional Acceptance, Respect, Experience, and Social dynamics. In other words:
Community built with our friends and family
Acceptance of our members for who they are
Respect for oneself and others
Experience the world around us in your own way
Social dynamics with which we learn and grow
If you have any questions or require more information, please conatct us through our Contact Form